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Topographic Maps, Aerial

Photos and Satellite

Images
(Or things that are really
useful whether you’re into
geology or not!)
The Basics: What is a
topographic map?
• A 2-D model of 3-D landscape
• Relief – difference in elevation (i.e.
valleys, peaks, coastlines, etc)
– Contour lines – represent elevations

Latitude
• “Latitude is fat-itude”
• Measured in degrees
• From 0° to 90°N or 90°S
– What do those represent?

Longitude
• Also measure in degrees
• Degrees east or west of the prime
meridian
– Runs from N to S through Greenwich,
UK
Breaking down degrees…..
• 1 degree  60 min (‘)  60 sec (“)
• Quadrangle – Section of earth
bounded by latitude and longitude
• 15 minute quadrangle
• 7.5 minute quadrangle
North
450mi from True
North

Declination –
Difference in
degrees

True north based on

geography

Magnetic North
shifts on the
earth’s magnetic
field due to
metallic (iron) core

What does this mean

for map accuracy?
Symbols
Digital Terrain Models
-Constant altitude flight
-Overlapping radar pulses
-Similar elevation – similar color

Why do you have to be above?

Making the map from aerial
view
• Eliminate angular distortion
• Ground truth – check elevations on
the ground!
– How would you do this?
• Contour lines connect all points that
have the same elevation above sea
level
• Index contours – elevations printed
• Contour interval – specified on map
as the regular change between
elevations
• Fig. 9.3 – What’s the contour
RULES! (And guidelines…)
• Contour lines NEVER cross? (Think
about why….)
• Contour lines ALWAYS close to form a
circle (unless you are going off the
map)
• The tip of a V-shaped notched
ALWAYS points uphill

Contour Lines (Fig 9.6)
• Can estimate elevation between two
points
• Even-spaced contours of different
elevations tell us something about
slope!
• Line can show steep vs. gentle slope
• Depression contours – closed circle
with hachure marks on the downhill
side
Reading contour lines
• Fig 9.7
• What is the elevation of the middle
hill?
• What cardinal direction is downhill on
the valley river?
• What is the easiest route up to the
ridge point?
Benchmark
• i.e. BM 463 – Permanent marker with
known elevation
Scales of Maps and Models
• Ratio scale
• 1:50, 1:24,000, etc (Always same
units)
• Think of zooming in and out!
• Convert!
– 1:24,000 – 1in is 24,000in
– 24,000in is 2000ft
GPS
• 28 satellites,
• 12-hour orbit
• Uses four
satellites
 and a receiver
to triangulate
• Usually an
accuracy of
10-15m
• Idea is 4 sats
are 15° above
the horizon
anywhere at
UTM – Universal Transverse
Mercator System
• Rectangular grid in meters
• 60 N-S zones – Zone 01 to Zone 60
• Easting – measured in meters E of W
edge
• Northing – distance from equator in
meters
Today’s Lab…..
• Complete the questions about
various topo quadrangles

– PART I
– PART II